Saturday, May 8, 2010


Tucker's first horse trial, Rocking Horse, April 2009

Tucker at the age of 4

I had never heard of a PMU or Premarin horse, until I was shown a brochure from an adoption group in the 1990's. I was absolutely horrified that such a practice exsisted: mares kept in straight stalls, unable to lie down for the most part of their pregnancy, hooked up to catheters to collect urine, and then the babies, sent to auction houses before they were 6 months of age, with the majority being sold to slaughter houses, so Europeans could eat them. All of this cruelty in the name of a drug to keep women from suffering through menopause. I was horrified that such a barbaric practice was going on, and had been going on for decades! Only in recent years had this practice come to light, and adoption groups were forming and were working with the ranchers, most in Canada and in the northern United States, to breed decent quality sport horses, that might actually have a chance of ending up somewhere other than on somebodies dinner plate.

It wasn't until 2003, nearly 10 years after seeing that brochure, that I had the opportunity to adopt a Premarin foal. I was so excited! I scoured rescue group websites, looking at prospects. Most foals were draft crosses: Percherons or Clydesdales crossed with Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. The perfect sport horse! I ended up with a black Percheron/QH colt. He had been originally picked out by someone else, but they decided they didn't need another horse and offered him to me!
The black colt was much larger than any of the other foals that were delivered with him to a drop off point in Winter Garden, about an hour from my house. We loaded him and another, a Fjord cross for a friend, into the trailer, and off we went! We quarantined the two together for several months. I was never able to get more than a quick pat while offering food to this wild fellow...he was so wild, I might as well have adopted a mustang! Twice during his quarantine, he jumped over the 4 foot fence. Well, I wanted a horse that could jump, I told myself, all the while, wondering just what the hell I was getting my self in to.

After 2 months and not making any progress, mainly because he was being kept so far from my home and I was lucky if I saw him twice a week, I moved him to be closer to my horses. I took him to a friend who halter broke him for me. Using the clicker method and food as a reward, he was halter broke in just a few days! Once he was halter broke, the rest of the training was so easy! After a few weeks, I then moved him to the farm where I kept my daughter's horses. I went slow and easy with Tucker. Eventually, I was able to pony him off the back of Dolly, my youngest daughter's aged Quarter Horse mare. A couple more times, Tucker demonstrated his jumping ability, jumping out of the pasture. He was also good at breaking boards. Hot wire soon became my best friend: I may as well be using toothpicks to keep him in otherwise! Tucker grew and grew, sometimes showing how stunning of a horse he would eventually become, other times looking gangly and darnright ugly! His sire had been a famous Percheron by the name of Johnny's Showtime, who stood 17.3 hands, and looked more like a Friesian than a Percheron. The mare, who did not rate a name, despite the abuse she endured, was a 15.3 hand Quarter Horse. I have pictures of Johnny's Showtime, none of his poor dam. I had hoped that the 2 extreme heights would mean he would top out somewhere around 16.2 or 16.3 hands..a good size for a tall gal like me. But Tucker kept growing, and now just 2 weeks shy of turning 7, he is 17.1 hands tall.

I named him Tucker...well, not for any really good reason. It just sounded right for him! His show name is Patronus. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you will know what it means. If you aren't a fan, its definition is to protect, to defend. In the Harry Potter series, Harry uses the Patronus charm to conjure up protection from the dementors and other various vile villians!
I waited to break Tucker until he was 3 years old. With his height, I didn't want any unnecessary stress on his joints. When I did sit on him for the first time, he looked around at me, as if asking just what was I doing up there on his back? He didn't buck, he didn't bolt. He just stood there, and then took some hesitant first steps when I asked him too.

The next few years were spent at a turtles pace compared to how other horses are broken. I didn't canter him until he was 4. I didn't jump him until he was 5. At the age of 5 1/2, I introduced him to his first cross country jumps.

In the fall of 2008, we attended an intro to eventing clinic with Jonathan Holling. It was Tucker's first time looking at cross country. He loved it, I loved it, Jonathan loved him! He told me Tucker could go to any level of eventing..I didn't tell him I aspired only to do novice...I knew what crazy jumps my daughter Jen jumped on her mare, Impulsive at training and above, and no thank you, I am not interested!

Last April of 2009, we finally did our first schooling horse trial. We finished on our dressage score of 38, taking 4th place out of 26 in beginner novice. Tucker was a blast to ride on the cross country course. We quickly settled into a rythmn and I think he would have jumped some of those crazy training and prelim jumps had I asked him to! He was having fun..we were having fun! I had done jumpers and hunters all my life, converting to eventing because Jen had gotten involved with eventing and pony club. It was one thing to be an eventing mom and groom, to watch from the sidelines. But to finally ride it? This was a blast!

I wish I could say we have done more events since then. But summer came, and I tend to hibernate in our is just too dam hot. Fall came and went before I had a chance to realize it had already left and I missed some shows. Winter was a busy time. But I had a wake up and made some adjustments in my life, so that eventing Tucker is now a priority. I missed the winter season and summer is here, thereby limiting my cross country, but fall will be here before anyone knows it and you bet we will be out there!

In the meantime, Tucker and I continue to get ready, working on conditioning and jumping.

I have owned many horses in my life, mainly Thoroughbreds. And I will always have a special place in my heart for each and everyone of those horses. Tucker comes at a time in my life when my kids are leaving home. As I approach the big 5-0 in a few years, I don't want to think about slowing down..who says you have to? I want to conquer the cross country course, who knows, maybe we will go beyond novice? I do know that age is not going to slow me down!

I have owned Tucker since he was 6 months old...I know him inside and out. And he is pretty dam comfortable with me, and he knows what Iam thinking and does it before I ask.

He is one cool horse, and I have been privledged to be a part of his life.

1 comment:

  1. Lori, always go wonderful to read how a team comes together. I can remember all the trials and tribulations of that youngster growing up, that you have shared. He is one handsome "Dude" in my book. I have always loved his charm. I want you to know, age has no limit on what one can achieve. A women at the age of 94, just graduated college and is seeking a job as a Librarian. 94 yrs young. All we need to do is "wake up" as you has done, and see there are roses in the garden just waiting for someone to smell them.